Another year in freelance facilitation, now both online and in-person again

Wallace Space Euston

Scaling up engagement and dialogue the power of facilitation and communications in partnership #FacPower

Last summer as I reviewed the year to June 2021, I wondered when I might finally be tempted to accept any face-to-face work again. As it turned out, after 2 years of the COVID19 pandemic spent working exclusively online, the last quarter of this year to June (and July too) were all about in-person events.

As in previous years, I shall share here in this longer read some data and reflections on the last year of my professional practice, and some insights and implications for my future practice and professional development. It is broadly a four-level ORID reflection again, of course.

In this past year to June 2022 I delivered 19 contracts for 15 clients. That compares with 32 contracts for 22 clients the year before, and 25 for 19 the year before that. I had been so busy in 2020-21 that I had resolved to be more selective this year in my client commitments. Whether that is what resulted in the reduced workload or whether fewer opportunities came my way, the outcome was welcome and I was very pleased to have had the contracts that I did.

This past year’s contracts involved a total 76 individual online sessions and 2 in-person events in Belfast and London. That compares with more than 100 online sessions and none in-person the year before; and before that 14 in-person, one ‘hybrid’ and 16 wholly virtual events (of one or more sessions).

I Declare A Climate Emergency

I resolved in January 2020 to restrict my travel mostly to places accessible to London without flying, and of course to try to travel less and work more online (that worked out well). So it suited me well that my international clients continued largely to request online work and my first two contracts for in-person events were both in the UK and one within walking distance in London. I have been happy to return to working in-person only in the last quarter and to return to hybrid working not at all (yet), and I have been happy to better acquaint myself with rail & ferry routes to Northern Ireland.

For one contract this year I was sub-contracted to a colleague and for nine I sub-contracted to one or more colleagues myself (or in one case licensed a colleague to deliver a training session independently). That compares to 10 & 19 last year and 7 & 4 the year before. So I have returned to working more on my own client contracts, compared to last year. Compared to before the pandemic, however, my work has continued to be more collaborative and involve much more co-facilitation. My contracts have often been larger as well.

Partners that I have contracted with this past year include again ICA:UK colleagues Megan Evans and Orla Cronin, and this year IAF colleagues Marie Dubost, Charo Lanao and Hector Villarreal Lozoya. I have otherwise collaborated also with others of the ICA:UK team and that of Orla Cronin, and with many IAF colleagues – some mentioned below.

Clients I have worked with have again included largely UK charities and international NGOs, although this year also UK devolved government and no European agencies, contractors, associations or NGO networks.

Of this past year’s contracts, 7 involved facilitation while 7 involved training and 6 involved coaching and consulting. That compares to 11 facilitation, 18 training and 7 coaching & consulting the year before, and 7 facilitation & 16 training the year before that. So my facilitation and training work have returned to their previous more or less equal balance, and the proportion of contracts involving coaching and consulting has continued to rise – that too has been welcome.

Facilitation contracts this past year have ranged in scale from a single session of 60-90 minutes at relatively short notice to as many as 17 sessions collaboratively designed and prepared over several months:

  • with Amnesty International, design and lead facilitation of a series of 17 sessions of the online 2021 Global Assembly, involving a multilingual team of 5 facilitators and 3-4 delegates of each of almost 70 member entities worldwide working in English, French and Spanish
  • with Oxford Properties on behalf of Traction Strategy, breakout session facilitation for an online Global Leadership Conference of around 300 delegates
  • with the Portuguese Refugee Council and Amnesty International Ireland, design and facilitation of a second online Best Practice Convening session of around 50 key actors in Community Sponsorship of Refugees across Europe
  • with Amnesty International, design and facilitation of an online team-building session for the International Board, Coalition Leadership Team and Governance Programme staff of the International Secretariat
  • with the Natural History Consortium, design and facilitation of a series of six online conversations bringing together 90 diverse stakeholders at ‘Communicate’, the UK’s conference for environmental communicators
  • with Amnesty International, Europe & Central Asia region, lead design and facilitation of a 5-session online Regional Forum involving over 100 delegates from around 25 member organisations
  • with Global Fishing Watch, design and facilitation of a 3-day retreat of the global Executive Team of 14 in London

Ann Burroughs

Ann Burroughs, Chair of the 2021 Global Assembly and Preparatory Committee, Amnesty International, wrote in a recommendation:

“Martin and his team provided outstanding support during Amnesty International’s 2021 Global Assembly which for the first time was held entirely online. They were integral in the planning of the model which helped to ensure broad participation and access for delegates of almost 70 member entities. Their experience and familiarity with facilitating online spaces were game changing and were critical in helping to build trust in the process and in a new model of digital governance.”

Savita Wilmott

Savita Willmott, CEO, The Natural History Consortium, wrote:

“Martin supported our charity in January 2022 to bring together 90 diverse stakeholders into a series of six online conversations in a single day. We were looking to tackle complex environmental topics, and have strong outputs. His advice and support was invaluable to design an effective programme for the day as well as to expertly facilitate the session alongside another facilitator. We achieved our aim of avoiding a “talking shop” – the outputs of the session are informing our strategic work six months later, and the connections made between organisations are thriving. Martin strikes a brilliant balance between flexibility and attention to detail, and we’d recommend him without hesitation.”

Training contracts this past year have ranged in scale from a single introductory session for one group to a series of multi-session courses for multiple groups:

For the first year since 2014, I offered no scheduled public ToP facilitation training myself this past year. Instead, I have invited participants to register with ICA:UK or another ICA worldwide. I have welcomed the reduced workload and risk that has resulted, and I have no plans at present to resume a paid public training offering.

I have expanded and clarified my offering of in-house facilitation training to include tailored courses that were not previously offered on a public schedule, and to make clearer which courses are now available online or in-person or both.

Coaching and consulting contracts this past year have again ranged in scale from one or two one-hour sessions with a single coachee to providing coaching and consulting support for multiple teams to design and lead a multi-session international event:

  • with Lindsey Green of Frankly Green +Webb, facilitation coaching in support of strategic planning with clients in the museum and arts sector
  • with Nicole Moran of Advisory & Facilitation Services, facilitation coaching in support of online strategic planning and focus group sessions
  • with Action Aid International, facilitation coaching and support for the Convener, Organising Committee and Governance staff of the Global Secretariat in preparation for sessions of the online Annual General Meeting

Nicole Moran, Global Development Advisory & Facilitation Services, wrote in a recommendation:

“Martin is the perfect coach, blending expertise and experience in the finest manner to provide excellent coaching and training support to me. His professional, encouraging and non-judgmental approach helped me venture to use a range of approaches, online platforms and tools – whether for training, review meetings, presenting the results of an evaluation. Since 2020 when Covid redefined our ways of working and relating, my work has shifted almost entirely to the virtual platform. I felt it important to get some expert guidance to ensure that I select the right tools and approaches for online working and continue to remain as efficient and effective as possible with my clients, my team and others. I am grateful for the professional support and guidance of Martin and looking forward to Martin’s continued guidance.”

In my volunteering, I have not (yet) been tempted to take up any new leadership role and have instead enjoyed contributing on a more ad hoc basis to a number of projects, more and less facilitation-related.

I continued my social media support by tweeting for Facilitation Week, as I have since the first #FacWeek in 2013, and by managing the website and social media for the Power of Facilitation book project. Having managed the website and social media for ICA International since I stood down as President in 2016, I was pleased to be able to support the new ICAI Board this year to appoint a new website and social media manager to succeed me (the fabulous Rena Koç) and to see a welcome refresh of the ICAI website.

IAF Facilitation Summit 2021

For Facilitation Week I also co-hosted two sessions of the IAF Facilitation Summit in October – ‘Facilitating Breakthrough: How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together’ with Adam Kahane and ‘Scaling Up Engagement & Dialogue’ with Michael Ambjorn, both drawing on recently released publications.

For the Power of Facilitation I also continued to work with fellow contributors to promote the book, during Facilitation Week and otherwise, and so to use the book to promote the power of facilitation worldwide. As well as supporting and promoting online ‘meet the author’ sessions and articles, book reviews etc, I supported more than 80 IAF colleagues around the world to convene and start to work to translate the book into more than a dozen languages.

For ICA:UK and ICA International, I also continued to participate in the UK ToP Associates network and the ICAI Global ToP Advisory Group, and latterly in the new ICAI Global ToP Community of Practice.

For IAF, I continued to serve as a mentor in the IAF mentoring programme, working again with two mentees in parallel this past year.

Manal Sayid, Facilitator, Consultant and Trainer, wrote:

“Martin has provided everything I could hope for in a mentorship relationship! He was super helpful in his sharing of relevant resources, his guidance in terms of all the questions I had, and I felt like we built great rapport and therefore could share some challenges and vulnerabilities candidly!”

I began to offer free facilitation coaching in November, which enabled me to support six young people during the year in their work for climate justice, gender equity or anti-racism.

Jacob Warn, Activist, Teacher & Consultant, Europe Must Act, wrote:

“What a fabulous [free facilitation coaching] session! Can I just say on behalf of us all how thankful we are – what an ‘espresso-shot’ of insight and wisdom, it’s really so generous of you to support in this open way and just so appreciated. I can’t wait to explore the various links you’ve shared and reflect more on the questions you’ve prompted, and we would really gladly take up your offer to have another session to workshop our upcoming strategy session in 2022!”

Ukraine anti-war protest, 6 March 2022 in London

I have been glad to be able to support Ukrainian colleagues in Ukraine and elsewhere since the Russian invasion in February, not least as part of a loose network of facilitators, trainers and consultants in Ukraine and around the world that has met weekly online led by ICA USA ToP colleagues of the Global Synergy Group.

I have been awed and inspired by much of the resolve, resistance, solidarity and leadership that I have seen in response to the war, and grateful to those colleagues in Kyiv who have challenged me to realise that every show of support is valued, and that support that is unseen and unheard is no support at all – see Facilitator neutrality in the context of war and oppression #StandWithUkraine.

Join our new Online group, Weekly Online Social and scheduled online events!

For the Gay Outdoor Club I stepped up from my social media support role to launch and co-ordinate a new Online group as well, and to host regular online socials – inspired in no small part by my 5 years of hosting free facilitation meetups of IAF England & Wales. Of course I didn’t join GOC to attend online meetings, least of all to lead them! It has turned out, however, that there is a real interest in connecting, meeting and socialising online, even among members of an outdoor club like GOC, as evidenced by responses to a feedback survey in May. I have been glad to be able to apply my professional skills to support the club and fellow members in this way.

Exploring feminist facilitation

My professional development has been focused largely on Exploring feminist facilitation and, more broadly, how I can ensure that my own practice as a professional facilitator is more effectively and explicitly feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppressive.

What was most helpful for me in this was participating this year in the 12-week online feminist leadership development programme of We Are Feminist Leaders. This provided me with a comprehensive framework by which to understand what feminism brings to leadership, and thus to facilitation, and also a powerful demonstration of what feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppressive facilitation can look like in practice.

I have continued to value the professional community and facilitation meetups of IAF England & Wales as a participant, and particularly this year’s hybrid Re-Facilitation Conference which I attended online. I found that an inspiring demonstration of how effective hybrid facilitation can be, even with a minimal budget but at least a collaborative team of experienced facilitators and a lot of good will. It inspired a number of valuable articles and blog posts too, not least from SessionLab the very thorough An honest* guide to planning and facilitating successful hybrid events.

My recent return to in-person working has led me to reflect and draw some initial conclusions on Mitigating COVID risks for in person and hybrid events to inform contracting discussions with future clients and groups.

While for many in the UK the COVID pandemic is effectively over, for others here and elsewhere it clearly isn’t. There are risks to my own work and health to consider as well as those of my clients and groups, and some potential for ethical dilemmas to arise. With a more or less equal mix of online and in-person events in the pipeline for the coming months, I do now feel better prepared to navigate the risks.

I shall certainly take advantage of the autumn booster vaccination promised for over-50s in the UK as soon as that is available. I shall continue to approach opportunities for prospective hybrid events with even greater caution than I did before the pandemic, careful to try to ensure that expectation and ambition are aligned with resources (or vice versa) and that valuable opportunities for asynchronous collaboration are not overlooked in a rush to synchronous hybrid working.

Another rail route that I have been happy to acquaint myself with has been the high-speed line from Paris to Barcelona, after I resolved during something of a sabbatical in Sitges two years ago to try to spend more time there more often. It is a real privilege to be able to work in such a way as to be able to do that, and I am thankful that COVID-related travel disruptions affected our last trip barely at all for the first time since we went back.

Such disruptions did prevent me from taking more than one week of intensive Spanish class while I was there, but I have taken to attending Spanish conversation meetups in London now as well. It was a wet and windy week in the Outer Hebrides this month that distracted me from my daily Duolingo Spanish practice sufficiently to bring and end to more than a year-long streak in the Diamond League – if you are familiar with that little green owl, you may feel my disappointment!

Thank you for following…


See also about me, how I work, who I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Mitigating COVID risks for in person and hybrid events

Much of my work remains online, as it was exclusively through the first two years of the COVID pandemic.

I have returned to providing facilitation and training in person as well, however, and where appropriate by a hybrid approach involving both in person and online at once.

While many of my clients and groups have been delighted to discover in the past two years just how engaging and effective online events can be, many are now for good reasons keen to gather in person again as well when they can.

Like them, I have been considering how best to respond to the continuing risk of infection and disruption due to COVID. In discussing and agreeing with them how best to respond to such risks together, I have drafted the following to inform such discussions with future clients and groups.

What conclusions have you drawn about how to respond to such risks, and what resources have you developed? Please do share in a comment below.


For clients

In my contracting with clients, I propose that:

  • As long as COVID remains a risk to the health and the work of all of us, we should all continue to take such risks into account as we agree how to work together
  • Our respective attitudes and appetite for risk are likely to be affected by the prevalence and impact of COVID and associated regulations where we are, by our own personal experience, and by cultural, economic and other factors – all of which may vary between us
  • COVID safety should be taken into account in the selection of venues for in person and hybrid events by, for example, ensuring adequate space, windows that can be opened to allow fresh air ventilation, and a notice of the venue’s COVID safety measures that might reassure attendees
  • Those invited to in person and hybrid events should be informed in advance of any COVID safety measures put in place by the client, the venue and/or by relevant local authorities, and requested or invited to take additional measures themselves as well (see below)
  • In case it may be appropriate to offer some element of remote participation in an otherwise in person event, thus making it a hybrid event, this should be agreed in advance and reflected in the budget and scope of work – to add remote participation to an event designed and prepared for only in person participation can be a great deal more complex, risky and time-consuming than designing and preparing a hybrid (or wholly online) event from the outset
  • In that case it will be important to clarify the aims and scope of remote participation relative to those of in-person participation in the hybrid event – to provide a truly equitable experience for both remote and in-person participants can be done, and can be one well, but often at the cost of greater complexity and risk, and therefore also time and budget
  • In the event that one or more members of the group are unable to attend in person due to COVID (see below), it will be assumed that the event will go ahead without them (or with them participating remotely if it is a hybrid event) unless some explicit arrangement is agreed for cancellation or postponement
  • In the event that one or more facilitators or trainers are unable to attend in person due to COVID (see below), I shall reschedule or arrange for a suitably experienced colleague to substitute in person where possible, and/or we will take part remotely where appropriate. Failing that, if appropriate, I shall offer to support the client or one or more of the group to lead the event without me. Unless some explicit arrangement is agreed for such an eventuality, I shall charge as agreed (only) for work delivered, for example consultation, design, preparation, facilitation and/or documentation
  • Clients may be reassured to know that to date I have had three COVID vaccinations and I have recovered from one COVID infection.

For groups

In my advance invitation to groups attending in person, and in contracting with them at the start of an event, I propose that:

  • COVID remains a risk to your health and that of others, and thus to all of our work as well, so we should continue to take such risks into account as we agree how to work together
  • Some of us may be anxious about attending in person, and/or particularly vulnerable to COVID infection, even as others may be less so – please take measures to reduce anxiety and risk for others if not also for yourself
  • Please comply with any COVID safety measures required by the client, the venue and by relevant local authorities (links provided)
  • Please test for COVID soon before attending
  • Please do not attend in person if you test positive or if you have COVID-like symptoms – mindful that COVID symptoms may be similar to those of a cold or flu, and we can test negative for several days before we test positive
  • Please bring a mask with you and feel welcome to wear it, and be prepared to wear it if asked to do so – masks may also be provided
  • Please pay attention to your distance from others, and respect each other’s personal space as best you can
  • Windows will be opened where possible to allow fresh air ventilation
  • Please let us know of any other particular concerns or suggestions you have in relation to COVID safety, in advance or at the start of the event, and be prepared to respect each others’ concerns and suggestions.

Thank you!


See also about me, how I work, who I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Exploring feminist facilitation

Photo by Red Dot on Unsplash

What does feminism bring to facilitation, and what does feminist facilitation look like? How can I ensure that my own practice as a professional facilitator is more effectively and explicitly feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppressive?

This longer-read post tells the story of why and how I have been exploring feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppressive facilitation this past year and more, what I have learned and how I am starting to apply it.

Are you practicing or exploring feminist facilitation yourself, or are you interested to do so? Please share any reflections, questions or links in a comment below, below, or contact me.


Why and how I have been exploring feminist facilitation

I wrote last September in Reflecting on a year of freelance facilitation online, and looking ahead:

I have been challenged by the Black Lives Matter movement and other recent manifestations and responses to systemic injustice and oppression, and by clients who have been similarly challenged, to reflect on how I might ensure that my own practice is more effectively and explicitly anti-racist, feminist and anti-oppressive, and to commit to working on that.

One of the clients I was referring to was Amnesty International, with whom I have facilitated several regional and global governance events since 2020, including last year’s 2021 Europe & Central Asia Regional Forum and Global Assembly – see Who I work with and Recommendations & case studies.  Discussions of anti-racism and feminist leadership have featured prominently in these events, and we sought to model an explicitly feminist and anti-racist approach to their design and facilitation.

In Reflecting on Amnesty International’s Global Assembly 2021, international member representative and youth activist Dumiso Gatsha of Botswana wrote powerfully of her vision of “the kind of Amnesty I want to continue to be a part of; one that lives and advocates what it truly means to be born of dignity through solidarity and action for those who don’t have the power”, and of the “feminist leadership approach to which our movement committed” at that Assembly.

In preparing for the Europe & Central Asia Regional Forum earlier that year, I had searched online for references to feminist facilitation and resources that I might draw on as we sought to uphold that commitment to feminist leadership and anti-racism in our design and facilitation. I did not find much, but what I found on twitter (to my surprise, above) led me back to an earlier exchange in which Leila Billing of We Are Feminist Leaders had asked me in 2019 if I could share any such references and resources with her! We had met a few years before that when I had provided ToP facilitation training to Girls Not Brides.

I concluded that I might need to do more to find what I was looking for than just a quick online search, but also that there were others out there who I might learn from and with – even if none of them had yet shared an easy-to-find online beginners guide to feminist facilitation…

Those that I have learned with and from since then include all those with whom I have worked at Amnesty International during this period, including my co-facilitators for those contracts – most notably and repeatedly Orla Cronin and Marie Dubost.  They also include several other clients and prospective clients during this period, my IAF mentees and the young social justice activists who have accepted my offer of free facilitation coaching. They include IAF colleagues of the Social Inclusion Facilitators Special Interest Group, ICA colleagues of the US ToP Network in particular and fellow facilitators of the Involve Practitioners Network. They also include a number of authors and podcasters that I have discovered along the way, not least adrienne maree brown and other black feminist contributors to Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation.

What has been most helpful for me, however, has been participating this year in the 12-week online feminist leadership development programme of We Are Feminist Leaders, led by Leila Billing and Natalie Brook. This has provided me with a comprehensive framework by which to understand what feminism brings to leadership, and thus to facilitation, and also a powerful demonstration of what feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppressive facilitation can look like in practice. I am grateful to Leila and Natalie, and especially to the cohort of mostly young feminist leaders with whom I shared the programme from whom I learned much too.

What I have learned

A comprehensive framework by which to understand what feminism brings to leadership, and thus to facilitation

What I learned in those 12 weeks can be summed up in large part by Leila in her earlier tweet summarizing what she had found herself, that “basically power analysis is key“.

The programme covers key concepts and principles behind feminist leadership, with particular emphasis on intersectionality and different dimensions of power and privilege, and key practical aspects including power sharing and self & collective care.  Much of the power analysis was familiar to me from my work in international development and human rights, although I was struck by how far the theory has progressed since my own development studies MA of 25 years ago now. Much of the practice would be familiar to any good professional facilitator, however what I found most interesting and valuable was what I found to be largely absent or at best implicit in much professional facilitation – namely power, and politics & purpose.

Feminist Leadership DiamondIn Feminist Leadership for Social Transformation: Clearing the Conceptual Cloud, Srilatha Batliwala identifies four essential components of feminist leadership which she presents in the Feminist Leadership “Diamond” (right).

Batliwala describes values as ‘the ethical norms that guide behaviour’ and principles as ‘norms that guide action’. These are thus broadly analogous to the IAF Statement of Values & Code of Ethics for facilitators, described by IAF as the ‘values and ethical principles that guide our actions’.  She describes practices as being ‘about ways of doing and enabling a myriad of things’. These are therefore broadly analogous to the IAF Core Competencies, ‘the basic set of skills, knowledge, and behaviours that facilitators must have in order to be successful facilitating in a wide variety of environments’.

So, what do we notice when we compare Batliwala’s framework for understanding feminist leadership with the IAF’s framework for guiding and certifying professional facilitation?

What I think the two frameworks clearly share at these levels of principles & values and practices are a belief in ‘the inherent value of the individual’ (IAF) and in the value of ‘consultative, collective, transparent and accountable decision-making’ (SB), and ‘Respect, Safety, Equity, and Trust’ recognising ‘the culture, rights, and autonomy of the group’ and seeking to ‘promote equitable relationships’ and ‘honour and recognise diversity, ensuring inclusiveness’ (IAF). Like the feminist leadership framework, the IAF framework recognises diversity and difference, the potential for conflict and risks to welfare and dignity and the importance of ‘a safe environment for conflict to surface’.

What I think feminist leadership brings to facilitation, that the IAF framework lacks, is a clear recognition of the structural and systemic sources of inequity of power and privilege in wider society, how these may be reflected in groups and how they must be addressed in order to achieve broader goals of human rights, peace and a healthy planet – even just to achieve an inclusive participatory meeting or process. This broader social context features prominently even in the principles & values and practices quadrants of Batliwala’s Diamond of feminist leadership, and warrants a further quadrant each for power and for politics & purpose. I did not find the words power, privilege, politics or purpose in the IAF Statement of Values & Code of Ethics or the IAF Core Competencies, except purpose in relation to the aims of a meeting and privilege in relation to conflict of interest.

A key emphasis of the IAF framework that is absent from that of feminist leadership is the ‘impartial’ role that facilitators are called upon to fill ‘in service to our clients… [including] the groups we facilitate’, involving ‘stewardship of process and impartiality toward content’.  I argued in my last post Facilitator neutrality in the context of war and oppression in March that facilitation is not a neutral practice or profession at all, and that as professional facilitators we must stand up against systems and structures of power, discrimination and oppression, violence and war. I think that the missing feminist leadership quadrants of power and politics & purpose provide clues to how we might do that.

Power

“Leadership is first and foremost about power – it is about holding power, exercising power, and changing the distribution and relations of power…  Feminist leadership means functioning with a greater consciousness not only of others’ but also of one’s own power” – Srilatha Batliwala, Feminist Leadership for Social Transformation: Clearing the Conceptual Cloud

During the programme we drew in particular on a power analysis outlined by Lisa VeneKlasen and Valerie Miller in A New Weave of Power, People & Politics: The Action Guide for Advocacy and Citizen Participation. This identifies four ‘expressions’ of power (familiar to me from Naila Kabeer’s 1994 Reversed Realities), namely Power Over, Power With, Power To and Power Within; three ‘realms’ in which power is expressed, namely Public, Private and Intimate; and three ‘levels’ of political power, namely Visible, Hidden and Invisible. We looked also at the notion of ‘deep structures’ in organisations, “the hidden sites and processes of power and influence… where the culture of the organisation is embedded and reproduced“, a locus of Invisible power and where Power Under is often expressed (Batliwala).

Suffice to say here that the analysis suggests that power is available to everyone to a greater or a lesser degree, determined in large part by the nature and degree of each individual’s intersecting privilege, and that power can be exercised in such a way as to enhance or diminish the power and privilege of others – and so to respect their rights or to violate them. Batliwala argues that “Feminist leadership will strive to make the practice of power visible, democratic, legitimate and accountable, at all levels and in both private and public realms.”

To explore intersectionality, the way that people’s identities and privilege intersect, and so their sources of power and inequality, we drew in particular on the CRIAW-ICREF Intersectionality Wheel (right).

If we are to meaningfully “recognise barriers to participation and ways to address them” in order to “honour and recognise diversity, ensuring inclusiveness“, as  the IAF Core Competencies (C2) expect of professional facilitators, then this is where  such “power analysis is key“.

Politics & purpose

“I define feminist leadership as a process of transforming ourselves, our communities, and the larger world, to embrace a feminist vision of social justice. It’s the process of working to make the feminist vision of a non-violent, non-discriminatory world, a reality (…) It’s about mobilizing others around this vision of change” – Srilatha Batliwala, The Feminist Leadership project: a series celebrating feminist leaders

Batliwala defines feminist leadership here in terms of its feminist political purpose, rather than in terms of its principles & values or its practices. It is perhaps appropriate that the purpose of a professional association can be seen to be non-political, as I think the IAF Vision and Mission can. Perhaps also then it is appropriate for IAF, in contrast, to define professional facilitation in terms of its principles and practices in the IAF Statement of Values & Code of Ethics and IAF Core Competencies.

Clarity of desired outcomes is central to the professional facilitators’ task, however, as made clear in the IAF Core Competencies (D) ‘Guide Group to Appropriate and Useful Outcomes’. In a world that is inescapably political, I would argue that professional facilitators have both a right and a responsibility to be transparent and accountable to their own political purpose of their professional facilitation practice, as well as to the desired outcomes of each particular facilitated process. Many facilitators already are, not least those who apply facilitation in their practice of feminist leadership, anti-racism and social inclusion, and in social justice movements more broadly.

“Enabling people to bring about positive change in their organisations and communities through facilitation… [toward] a just and sustainable world for all” – ICA:UK Misson & Vision

IAF was founded in 1994 by a global network of 70 ICA ToP facilitators, and the practice and provision of training in ICA’s Technology of Participation facilitation methodology remains central to the work of ICAs around the world. For ICA and for ToP facilitators, facilitation is seen as a tool of transformational change – toward a mission and vision described by ICA:UK as “enabling people to bring about positive change in their organisations and communities through facilitation” toward “a just and sustainable world for all“.

I have continued to regard that as my own purpose as a professional facilitator since I helped to articulate it more than 20 years ago as part of a 2001 online Focused Conversation on ICA:UK values.  I recognise it as a political purpose, and therefore that ‘power analysis is key‘.

A powerful demonstration of what feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppressive facilitation can look like in practice

Many if not most of the IAF Core Competencies were in evidence in the design and facilitation of the We Are Feminist Leaders programme. Notable exceptions were D3. ‘Guide the group to consensus’ and F3. “Model neutrality”, as consensus and content neutrality were not really relevant or necessary in such a facilitated group process of individual learning and leadership development. What I found particularly noticeable was how attention to power and privilege helped to ‘honour and recognise diversity, ensuring inclusiveness’ (IAF Core Competence C2); and how practical aspects of feminist leadership such as power sharing and self & collective care were demonstrated.

Applying the concepts and tools of feminist leadership together to our own and each other’s lived experience helped to ‘create a climate of trust and safety’ and ‘recognise barriers to participation and ways to address them’. Power sharing was demonstrated by means of effective co-facilitation by the programme leaders, and by means of the very participatory process by which members of the group themselves exercised leadership together throughout the programme.

Self & collective care was demonstrated by diligent application of the ’10 principles of a feminist classroom’ that were shared at the outset and referred to throughout. These included the importance of mutual learning and building a learning community; attention to lived experience, to feelings as much as thoughts, and to our own and each other’s power and privilege and how they affect our positions and perspectives; courage and compassion in sharing and challenging in safety, and in taking action on what we learn in pursuit of social justice beyond the classroom. Perhaps most important, that “the feminist classroom will not be perfect, because we are not perfect”.

Even as an older white man among a diverse group of mostly younger women, I felt entirely welcome and included myself – although I had felt some trepidation before about signing up for a programme ‘for emerging leaders’. I think I can credit my own experience of inclusion to the very welcoming and inclusive space that was created, as well as to my own ‘unique circumstances of power, privilege and identity’ (CRIAW) that can make it relatively easy for me to feel welcome and included.

The privilege of my own unique circumstances was brought home to me most powerfully when we reflected on how we can care for our own and each other’s well-being in the face of the trauma that can be experienced by those resisting systemic oppression or inequality, and struggling to make a non-violent, non-discriminatory world a reality.  I do not feel traumatized by my own work toward a just and sustainable world for all, and generally I do not struggle with caring for myself and others – because generally I can expect to be cared for by society, and it is not violence and discrimination against me that is standing in my way.

How I am starting to apply it

I seek to take a feminist and anti-racist approach to my work, informed by an understanding of the way people’s intersecting identities (age, race, sexuality, gender, class, ability etc.) impact the ways that they have power and privilege, and the ways they face marginalization and discrimination. Mindful of such inequalities, I strive to create an safe environment that is inclusive of diverse lived experience, and ensure that even the most excluded have an equal voice and opportunity to contribute.

I recognize that my own intersecting identities as an older, anglophone, white British gay man (middle class and able-bodied) may position me to be better able to achieve those goals with some groups than with others. With clients and groups for whom I may not be best positioned to facilitate myself, I recommend others and/or offer to partner or co-facilitate with others as appropriate.

I have included the above text on my web page How I work, and I now use or adapt it as appropriate in proposals to clients and in contracting and design conversations with clients and groups. I have recommended clients to others, and partnered and co-facilitated with others, where I have realised that I was not best positioned to facilitate with a particular group myself.

I have started to offer free facilitation coaching to young people using facilitation in their work for peace, climate justice, gender equity or anti-racism, or otherwise in response to systemic injustice and oppression or toward achieving a just and sustainable world for all – in order to support and share power with them, and to be inspired and learn from their experience; and also to further diversify the network of colleagues who I am able to recommend to clients and/or offer to partner or co-facilitate with.

ECA Regional Forum 2022 - Invitation to guide behaviour in sessionsI have started to draw on principles and practices of feminist leadership and anti-racism in how I contract with groups and invite them to contract with each other. This invitation to guide behaviour in sessions, for example, was first developed for Amnesty’s ECA Regional Forum in 2021, and then adapted for use at their 2021 Global Assembly and 2022 ECA Regional Forum as well.  It drew on insights of a capacity building session led by my co-facilitator Orla Cronin, which itself drew on ActionAid’s Ten Principles of Feminist Leadership.

I shall continue this exploration in professional development with colleagues and in my professional practice with clients and groups.  Among an abundance of professional development opportunities, I am particularly looking forward to joining an Action Learning Set with other ’emerging’ feminist leaders who have completed the 12-week We Are Feminist Leaders programme. I am looking forward to learning also in my volunteer role with the (predominately older, white, gay male) Gay Outdoor Club as it works to implement a new Inclusion and Diversity Policy – toward a more diverse and inclusive GOC, “for everyone in the LGBTQI+ community who wants to enjoy outdoor activities”.

As I continue to educate myself, I hope to be better able to help to educate my clients and groups as well – on how we must all be prepared to invest time and budget, as well as creativity, courage and compassion, to address power and privilege as we must if we truly mean to ‘recognise barriers to participation and ways to address them’ in order to ‘honour and recognise diversity, ensuring inclusiveness’.

Are you practicing or exploring feminist facilitation yourself, or are you interested to do so? Please share any reflections, questions or links in a comment below, below, or contact me.


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Facilitator neutrality in the context of war and oppression #StandWithUkraine

Ukraine anti-war protest, 6 March 2022 in London

“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Olga Gulaya, facilitator – Kyiv, 6 March 2022.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness – Amnesty International

The supposed ‘neutrality’ of the facilitator has been something of a bone of contention among facilitators for as long as I can remember. Perhaps because of that contention, the word neutrality does not appear in the Statement of Values and Code of Ethics that all IAF members are required to support, although it does appear in the Core Competencies that all IAF Certified Professional Facilitators are required to demonstrate and evidence.

IAF Statement of Values

As group facilitators, we believe in the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group. We strive to help the group make the best use of the contributions of each of its members. We set aside our personal opinions and support the group’s right to make its own choices. We believe that collaborative and cooperative interaction builds consensus and produces meaningful outcomes. We value professional collaboration to improve our profession.

F3. Trust group potential and model neutrality

  • Honour the wisdom of the group
  • Encourage trust in the capacity and experience of others
  • Vigilant to minimise influence on group outcomes
  • Maintain an objective, non-defensive, non-judgmental stance

What I think is apparent, notwithstanding competence F3, is that facilitation is not a neutral practice or profession at all. It is not neutral to support some values over others, or some competencies over others. It is not neutral to advocate for facilitation to be “used throughout the world to address the challenges faced by people in their groups, organizations and communities” as the IAF Vision does.

While we “set aside our personal opinions and support the group’s right to make its own choices“, and while “we are vigilant to minimize our influence on group outcomes” and “maintain an objective, non-defensive, non-judgmental stance“, we “believe in the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group“, we “do not impose anything that risks the welfare and dignity of the participants” and we “strive to engender an environment of respect and safety where all participants trust that they can speak freely and where individual boundaries are honoured“.

While we must strive to ‘model neutrality’ in respect of the content of the group’s work, in order to be effective in our role as facilitator, we need not and perhaps cannot be neutral to it. We cannot and must not be neutral to the group’s process. We must demonstrate and advocate for respect, equity and inclusion, for dialogue and consensus.

To demonstrate and advocate for the values and competencies that we believe are needed to improve group effectiveness and to address the challenges faced by people around the world, we must stand up for them and we must be seen and heard to stand up for them. That must mean also standing up against those systems and structures of power, discrimination and oppression, violence and war, that deny the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group, that risk people’s welfare and dignity and that obstruct or destroy an environment of respect and safety.

As I wrote last September in Reflecting on a year of freelance facilitation online, and looking ahead, “I have been challenged by the Black Lives Matter movement and other recent manifestations and responses to systemic injustice and oppression, and by clients who have been similarly challenged, to reflect on how I might ensure that my own practice is more effectively and explicitly anti-racist, feminist and anti-oppressive, and to commit to working on that.“. That work has already included joining the excellent Feminist Leadership Programme of We Are Feminist Leaders and seeking to ally with others by offering Free facilitation coaching.

More recently I have been shocked and appalled by the unfolding Russian invasion of Ukraine. I have been concerned for the safety and well-being of IAF and ICA colleagues that I have worked with in Ukraine, and more recently in Russia. I have been struggling to know how to respond, knowing that I cannot know what is needed and that anything that I do will not be enough.

I have been awed and inspired by much of the resolve, resistance, solidarity and leadership that I have seen in response to the war. I am grateful to those colleagues in Kyiv who have challenged me this week to realise that every show of support is valued, and that support that is unseen and unheard is no support at all. I am grateful also to those colleagues in Moscow who have shown support and resistance themselves.

ICAI Sunflowers

I am thankful that ICA colleagues are mobilizing together to show solidarity and support in Standing with the peoples of Ukraine, and that IAF colleagues too are making plans to do so.

Please do whatever little you can to add your support, and to show your support and solidarity. #StandWithUkraine️



See also about me, how I work, who I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Are you planning an online conference, Forum or General Assembly?

Free facilitation webinar: Taking your event online: what could possibly go wrong?


Below is a ‘menu of services’ that I have been able to provide to a number of clients planning such online events in recent years. Please contact me as early as you can if you could benefit from such support as you plan, prepare and deliver your own event.

The scope and scale of service delivered for these recent projects has ranged from just a few days of consulting and coaching from myself alone over a week or two, to a larger package of consultation, coaching and Introduction to Facilitation Online training with multiple teams from myself and a co-facilitator over several weeks, to anything from 10 to 50 days or more of comprehensive support over several months from myself and a larger team with diverse skills able to provide many if not all of the menu of services.

Colleagues that I have collaborated with on such projects recently have included Orla Cronin, Marie Dubost, Charo Lanao, Judy Rees, Hector Villarreal Lozoya and Bruno Selun – I am thankful to them for the teamwork that has made many of these projects possible.

Recent such client contracts have included:

  • with Action Aid International, facilitation coaching and support for the Convener, Organising Committee and Governance staff of the Global Secretariat in preparation for sessions of the online 2021 Annual General Meeting
  • with Amnesty International, design and lead facilitation of a series of 17 sessions of the online 2021 Global Assembly, involving a multilingual team of 5 facilitators and 3-4 delegates of each of almost 70 member entities worldwide working in English, French and Spanish
  • with Amnesty International, Europe & Central Asia region, lead design and facilitation of a 4-week online 2021 Regional Forum involving over 100 delegates from around 25 member organisations in over 20 sessions
  • with OMCT, design consulting and facilitation training over 3 months in support of the first online Global Week Against Torture in 2021
  • with Oxfam Ireland, online facilitation training and coaching with staff in Ireland and of six African programme partners, in support of their first online Annual Partnership Meeting together in 2020
  • with the ISEAL Alliance, online facilitation training and coaching in support of their first online ‘Members’ Month’ in 2020
  • with ILGA Europe on behalf of Kumquat Consult, design consulting and facilitation training in support of the first online ILGA Europe 2020 Annual Conference
  • with Amnesty International, design and facilitation of a series of six online Global Strategy Labs involving around 150 delegates representing 70 national entities worldwide working in English, French and Spanish in 2020
  • with the Amnesty International Europe & Central Asia region, lead design and facilitation of a 3-day online 2020 Regional Forum involving over 100 delegates from around 25 member organisations – blog post
  • with FAO, design and facilitation of the 2015 online conference “Economics of Climate Change Mitigation Options in the Forest Sector” engaging over 900 international experts – case study

“Martin and his team provided outstanding support during Amnesty International’s 2021 Global Assembly which for the first time was held entirely online. They were integral in the planning of the model which helped to ensure broad participation and access for delegates of almost 70 member entities. Their experience and familiarity with facilitating online spaces were game changing and were critical in helping to build trust in the process and in a new model of digital governance.” – Ann Burroughs, Chair of the 2021 Global Assembly and Preparatory Committee, Amnesty International – Sep 16, 2021

“Together with other folks at the Kumquat team Martin helped us to organize the ILGA-Europe Gathering Online 2020. Organizing a large event online for the first time came with many questions and challenges. Martin particularly helped us with providing training and assistance to put together the flow of the programme and to ensure that we were ready to facilitate the many spaces that our event was made up with. It was a pleasure working with Martin!” – Björn van Roozendaal, Programmes Director at ILGA-Europe – Feb 25, 2021

“In November 2020, Martin provided invaluable support to Oxfam Ireland in the build-up to a series of multi-stakeholder online workshops. He provided tailored ‘coaching sessions’ to our team, which helped us to prepare and deliver several engaging virtual sessions. These sessions directly catered to our needs, building our ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ virtual facilitation skills and knowledge. Furthermore, he also co-facilitated an in-house “Introduction to Facilitation Online” workshop with colleagues across Southern and Eastern Africa. This excellent workshop was well received by all participants. Thanks, Martin!” – Rosa Brandon, Programme Quality Officer at Oxfam Ireland – Feb 22, 2021

“WOW! Awesome contributions from 200+ participants at the #ECCMOFS REDD+ online conference session. Feeling inspired @FAOForestry”  – Ruth Mallett, Consultant at UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) – February 13, 2013


Menu of services

Before

Project management: We can work with you to clearly define the project and its boundaries, starting from a clear purpose statement (including outputs and outcomes) that will help align your various stakeholders’ expectations of the event. We can help you make it operational by translating it into a clear project plan and division of responsibilities, and we can accompany you in delivery.

We will recommend using an online project management tool across the entire team (internal and external) to achieve and maintain this throughout – we can provide and support you to use Basecamp or Asana, or join an existing platform you’re already using internally, or we can support you to acquire and use your own platform. Such a platform will be crucial to deliver such a complex project on schedule.

Conceptualisation: Support for the overall design and conceptualisation of a coherent event, including flow, timing, duration and format to maximise engagement and participation to best meet your aims and ambitions within your constraints, including budget and capacity. We can help you to identify what types of sessions should be offered (including format, degree of participation, types of outcomes, etc.), allowing you to then populate the programme using those session types.

Participation design: We can work with you to identify what sort of participation (how much, how broad, how deep) each session type will require, and the number of participants expected or desired. These will make up the event’s participation requirements, which with security & accessibility requirements will allow us to advise which service(s), platform(s) and/or tool(s) you should consider.

Session call & selection: We can support you in the setup and running of a session call, proposal and selection system for submitters, reviewers and decision-makers – including technical support, training and assistance

Communication: We can advise you on how and when to communicate with prospective and confirmed participants, session leaders, speakers and other stakeholders in order to manage their expectations and preparations in alignment with those of the event as a whole.

Platform selection & setup: We can help you in researching and reviewing available options and selecting an online event platform to meet your specific requirements, including in relation to security, pricing, functionality and much more. We can help you with setup and troubleshooting of your selected platform, including the pre-registration, registration, event and post-event phases

Additional tools: Depending on your requirements and choice of platform, we can support you to select, configure and use additional tools for participant inclusion and engagement, e.g. for interpretation, voting, Q&A, brainstorming, visualisation, networking etc.

Facilitation training & coaching: We can help you determine how to best recruit additional facilitators if needed, whether volunteers or professionals. We can design and deliver bespoke facilitation training, drawing on a range of existing and well-established training modules (see above). We can offer tailored coaching & troubleshooting sessions for session facilitators and producers, individually or in pairs or small teams, to support them in their session design and preparation.

Technical preparation: We can help you with the technical preparation of your team, speakers and moderators to run their sessions through the event platform – technical checks, testing all platforms & tools used to ensure they’re familiar with them on the day

During

Technical support (a.k.a. production): On-call technical support for the full duration of the event, both inside and between sessions, to ensure everything goes according to plan, and to deliver backup solutions in the event of a failure (e.g. if a speaker or session leader can’t connect)

Facilitation support: We can help by facilitating or producing particular sessions or parts of sessions for you, or the whole event, or by co-facilitating or co-producing to support your own session teams to do so

After

Evaluation: Design, delivery and analysis of a bespoke evaluation survey to collect actionable feedback from your participants regarding what went well, what didn’t, and how to improve future events


See also free facilitation webinars including:

See also about mehow I work and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Are you interested to meet or socialise with other GOC members online, from the comfort of your home?

Join our new Online group, Weekly Online Social and scheduled online events!

Probably like most members, I didn’t join the Gay Outdoors Club to attend online meetings – least of all to lead them. It turns out, however, that there is now an interest in connecting, meeting and socialising online, even among members of an outdoor club like GOC.

So, after managing GOC’s Twitter and Facebook feeds for a year or more, I have stepped up to launch and co-ordinate a new Online group as well. Initially at least, I am offering to support GOC’s 1,400+ members (assuming that not all will be interested!) to use Wonder and Zoom, in conjunction with Calendly, to connect and socialize informally and to schedule and host their own online meetings and events.

What follows is todays’ news post launching the new Online group, and the member-only page How to use Zoom and Wonder with member-only links and passwords omitted.


Join our new Online group, Weekly Online Social and scheduled online events!

Are you interested to meet or socialise with other GOC members online, from the comfort of your home?

Perhaps you don’t find it easy to join many of our outdoor events for one reason our another, or you’re interested to connect with members beyond those that you usually meet in person? Perhaps you are a co-ordinator of one of our other local or specialist groups and you are interested to host events online as well as outdoors, or to meet online to co-ordinate and plan your group and its outdoor events?

Since we first announced our new online meeting tools in a news post just before Christmas, members have taken the opportunity to mingle and socialize informally online with others from around the country and even to schedule and host their own online events for their own groups. There has been sufficient interest that we are now launching a new specialist Online group to co-ordinate and promote the new Weekly Online Social and scheduled online events.

Whatever your interest, and whatever your level of technical experience or expertise, please join us – you are welcome!

  • For further details of the group, the weekly Tuesday night social and other events, and how to join, please check out our new Online group page.
  • For further details of our new online meeting tools, available to all members and groups, check out our new member-only page How to use Zoom and Wonder.

I hope to see you online soon, if not also outdoors!

Martin Gilbraith, Online group co-ordinator.


Join our new Online group, Weekly Online Social and scheduled online events!

How to use Zoom and Wonder

Are you interested to network or meet with other GOC members, online from the comfort of your home?

Please join our new Online group to receive group updates of news and online events, however you don’t need to join the group to use new our online meeting tools – they are available for all membership:

  • Our Zoom meeting room is suitable for the kind of private online meeting that you might otherwise hold in a physical meeting room. It is accessible on a computer, tablet or smartphone via an app, or with more limited functionality via your browser or you can even dial-in by telephone. Scroll down for how to schedule a meeting in Zoom and invite other members, whether for GOC social or ‘business’ purposes.
  • Our Wonder networking space is suitable for the more fluid kind of online socialising that you might otherwise do at a GOC event outdoors, or in the pub or tea room afterwards. It is accessible on a computer via Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge – sorry, not yet on a tablet or smartphone or via Safari or other browsers. Read on for how to meet, mingle and network freely with other members in Wonder.

Meet and mingle in Wonder – from 8pm every Tuesday, or whenever you please

Our Wonder space is open 24/7, and it is entirely free to GOC. You can meet others there by arrangement, or you can drop by to see if anyone is there – for our Weekly Online Social from 8pm every Tuesday, or whenever you please. You are welcome to use it any time, and for as long as you like.

Wonder can accommodate up to 1,500 at a time in self-organising ‘circles’ of up to 15 – like zoom breakout groups, but more fluid and more fun. You can lock your circle for a private meeting, or you can leave it open to allow others to join you. If you are curious to know more about Wonder, see this report from Tech Crunch.

To use Wonder for the first time, take a few minutes in advance to view the short video (here and below) and follow the steps access the space. There’s no need to create a new account or log-in, or to download or install new software. Your browser will remember your settings for your future visits, so you will only have to go through these steps once. You can view the same steps also in writing here, and you can find additional support at Wonder Help and Troubleshooting Guide.

To add an event in Wonder to the GOC events calendar for other members to join, just submit an event in the usual way. You don’t need to worry about whether anyone else will be using the space at the same time, because there is plenty of room for everyone. In the member-only information under ‘meeting point’, include a link to this page How to use Zoom and Wonder and the following link and password for direct access to our Wonder space:

  • To access our Wonder space click here – the password is XXX.
To use Wonder for the first time, take a few minutes in advance to view the short video

Schedule a Zoom meeting and invite other members

Our Zoom meeting room can accommodate just one meeting at a time, so you will need to schedule your meeting in advance at a time that is not already booked. Use the Zoom calendar (below) to schedule a one-off meeting in the next 30 days, or email Online group co-ordinator Martin Gilbraith to request a recurring meeting or a meeting more than 30 days ahead.

When scheduling your meeting in the calendar, allow an additional 15 minutes before and after if you need it as another meeting may be scheduled directly before or after yours. Please do not schedule more time than you need, however, so as to leave time available for others. If you find the date and time that you want is not available in the calendar for a longer meeting, you might find that it is available for a shorter one. After scheduling your meeting you will receive login details by email that you can share with your guests, and a ‘host key’ that you can use to ‘claim host’ and access host features.

A small group can meet quite successfully for a short conversation in Zoom with minimal technical expertise or experience of Zoom, and with minimal hosting by the meeting leader. For a more complex meeting or with a group of more than around 10 or 15, you will probably need enough familiarity with Zoom to manage breakout groups and other host features such as screen-sharing, recording and security settings, and you will need one or two people to be prepared to lead the meeting and manage the technology. Our Zoom meeting room can accommodate up to 100, and it has a wide variety of features and functions available. For support or with questions about Zoom see Zoom Help, and for a guide to remote facilitation and online meetings see SessionLab.

To add an event in Zoom to the GOC events calendar for other members to join, just submit an event in the usual way. In the member-only information under ‘meeting point’, include the login details that you received by email. Share the host key only with anyone that will need and be able to use the additional host features to host the meeting.

  • To schedule a Zoom meeting and receive login details to share, use the Zoom calendar (below):

Use this Zoom calendar to schedule a one-off meeting in the next 30 days.

If you have any other questions or requests for networking and meeting online with GOC, please email Online group co-ordinator Martin Gilbraith.

Our Code of Conduct and other GOC polices and guidelines apply to online events as they do to others.


See also about me, how I work, who I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.

Free facilitation coaching for youth social justice and sustainability work

Amnesty International Activism Hackathon, 2017 in London - photo Amnesty, facilitation Martin Gilbraith #ToPfacilitation 3


Could you use some support to address a facilitation question or challenge you are facing, to design or prepare an upcoming workshop or process, or to reflect and learn from some recent experience?

Are you up to 35 years old and using facilitation in your work for climate justice, gender equity or anti-racism, or otherwise in response to systemic injustice and oppression or toward achieving a just and sustainable world for all?

If so, read on and feel free to request a first free facilitation coaching session via my online scheduling calendar below.

If you are over 35, working on something else or able to pay, if you are interested in coaching for others or in longer-term support for your professional development as a facilitator, please contact me to ask about my availability and rates for paid facilitation coaching and mentoring – including discounted rates for voluntary organisations & independent professionals.

Free facilitation coaching

I am happy to offer, free of charge:

  • up to three online sessions of up to 45 minutes each, over up to six weeks
  • support for you only, or for you plus one or two others sharing the same question or challenge
  • to review any material that you share in confidence with me in advance of each session
  • to listen actively with curiosity, care and respect
  • to ask questions, to support you to reflect and learn from your experience and come to your own conclusions or solutions
  • to offer feedback and ideas from my experience, and refer you to any relevant resources and sources of support that I can.

In return, I hope that I may be inspired by your work and that I may learn from your experience.  If you find the coaching helpful, I shall be grateful for a short recommendation outlining how it helped.

Rosa BrandonRosa Brandon, Programme Quality Officer at Oxfam Ireland, wrote Feb 22, 2021:

“Martin provided invaluable support to Oxfam Ireland in the build-up to a series of multi-stakeholder online workshops. He provided tailored ‘coaching sessions’ to our team, which helped us to prepare and deliver several engaging virtual sessions. These sessions directly catered to our needs, building our ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ virtual facilitation skills and knowledge. Thanks, Martin!”

Request a first free session

Please scroll down in my scheduling calendar to request a first free session from 2-10 days ahead:


I may cancel your session if your request or eligibility is unclear or if my availability changes. Please give at least 24 hours notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment for any reason, and I shall do the same for you.

If you do not find a suitable session time available, please try again after a few days or more. Please contact me with any queries.


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.